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A 12th century parish church linked to the University of Cambridge

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East Window
Washington Plaque
Urban Nature Reserve
The Church of St Mary the Less is widely known as Little St Mary’s, or LSM. It is a parish church whose roots were linked with the University of Cambridge. In its beginnings in the early twelfth century, it was given to the Hospital of St John the Evangelist, which later became St John’s College. From there, the Bishop of Ely accommodated some students in two houses south of the church. He let them use the church as their chapel, and as then it was known as St Peter without Trumpington Gate, these students formed the college Peterhouse, the first of the University Colleges.

St Mary the Less church in Little St Mary's Lane
In the 1300s the people of Peterhouse decided to rebuild the church, as it was in a bad condition. They renamed it St Mary the Less, to distinguish it from the official University Church, St Mary the Great. It was in the 1600s that Little St Mary’s became solely a parish church, as Peterhouse gained a new chapel elsewhere.

The church organ, dedicated in 1978

East Window depicting the Annunciation, dated 1886

Did You Know?

Just inside the door, you will find a wall monument to George Washington's great uncle Godfrey Washington, a former minster of the church.

Godfrey Washington Memorial

Part of the garden - an Urban Nature Reserve
To this day it takes its role as a church for its allocated territory very seriously, even though the parish it ministers to is a relatively small area of Cambridge. It seeks to be a church active seven days a week, not just Sundays, as part of its mission statement reads, We are… seeking to worship God in the beauty of His holiness, and to serve Him in daily life.
Visitor Information
St Mary the Less is open to visitors daily, 9am to 5.30pm. Entrance is FREE. Tel: 01223 366 202

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